Military Admissions and Advising Team helps grow enrollments

As the nation marks National Military Appreciation Month in May, Penn State is reporting 40 percent growth in enrollments of active-duty military and veteran students in Penn State's World Campus for 2011, or 14 percent of all online enrollments. This trend is the result of Penn State's dedicated Military Admissions and Advising Team.

Formed in 2000, the team has six admissions counselors and academic advisers with military experience. The leader of the military advising team, Army veteran John Mills, believes his military service gives him an edge in helping these students. "I know what the workload is like and what these students have to accomplish for their military mission."

For admissions counselor Akin Obiri, a Pennsylvania Army National Guard reservist, being in the military "gives me credibility with prospective students. I understand 'military speak' and the hurdles these students have to overcome to make the decision to go to school. I'm a problem-solver and investigator," said Obiri of his efforts to help prospective students use their G.I. Bill benefits.

Military advising assistant Elisa Van Cise also is a problem-solver. When a Navy service member was beginning his sea duty and unsure about Internet access, she registered the student for his courses. "It was extra work, but it was worth it," said Van Cise, a captain in the Air Force Reserve. She served in Iraq in 2009, adding, "I understand what it's like to be deployed to a war zone through personal experience."

Among Penn State's initiatives for service members and veterans are a military grant-in-aid for undergraduate programs, military scholarships and training programs for faculty and staff who work with these students. The University also participates in the Veterans Administration Yellow Ribbon Program and has been recognized as a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs, Military Advanced Education, and Military Times.

Future plans include creating informational webinars for prospective students, establishing a club for online active duty and veteran students and developing a course about military culture and classroom issues for faculty and staff.

Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 115 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated May 21, 2012